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Animal Welfare Legislation

Animal Health Australia (AHA) does not have any regulatory responsibility for livestock welfare but works with our members to improve livestock welfare and safeguard market access.

Animal welfare regulation

The state and territory governments in partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) have the principal responsibility for livestock welfare in each jurisdiction.

The Australian Government is responsible for trade and international agreements relating to livestock welfare, including live animal exports and export abattoirs.

Model codes of practice for animal welfare

Model codes of practice for the welfare of animals have played an important role in livestock welfare for the past 35 years.

These codes suggest acceptable livestock welfare outcomes but they are not mandatory. In various ways, they are used under the current state and territory Acts for the prevention of cruelty to animals:

Developing nationally consistent animal welfare arrangements for various industry sectors is a welfare priority identified by all levels of government, industry and welfare organisations.

Enhanced national harmonization of regulation and sustainable improvements in animal welfare based on science, national and international benchmarks and changing community standards, are areas of priority effort.

In 2005, it was proposed that existing model codes of practice be revised into a new format, to incorporate both national welfare standards and industry recommended guidelines for each species or enterprise. AHA was commissioned to facilitate the development of nationally consistent standards and guidelines for livestock following the 2005 review.

The fundamental components and workings of the development process are available in the introduction of the draft standards and guidelines document and in the agreed development business plan, available on this website.

Standards review project

AHA, in liaison with the livestock industries and welfare organisations, is coordinating the development of national livestock welfare standards and guidelines.

The new standards and guidelines will provide a basis for achieving livestock welfare outcomes—through regulation and industry quality assurance activities—to meet community and international expectations and reflect Australia’s position as a leader in modern, sustainable and scientifically based welfare practice.

In consultation with stakeholders, AHA has developed a business plan for the development of standards and guidelines.

For more information visit the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines website. 

Related information


Page reviewed: 02/07/2019